How to Elope in England

What is an elopement?

While many couples dream of planning a grand wedding ceremony, complete with a beautiful venue, gorgeous flower arrangements, and a big reception, not all couples desire the cost and effort that comes with planning such an event. Many people also simply do not feel comfortable with such a big event and would prefer something more intimate. Once upon a time, an elopement was understood as a secret marriage and often involved a couple running away from their family together to be wed. Nowadays an elopement doesn't necessarily involve a secret runaway marriage at all but can take many forms such as a small adventure into the mountains to say your vows or a quiet and intimate ceremony with just your nearest and dearest there to witness your love.

Why elope?

There are many reasons why a couple might choose to elope, including to avoid the stress, planning and expense of a traditional wedding. Planning a wedding can be overwhelming for many people. The guest list, venue, catering, date, and other vendors can be stressful to organise and can add up to a rather large bill. Many couples wish to celebrate their love in a more private way without wanting to spend too much money and eloping can allow a couple to focus more on each other and their commitment to one another by organising a more intimate marriage.

Another reason to elope is to break away from tradition. With society becoming more secular, many people find that the foundations of a traditional wedding don't necessarily reflect their own values or tastes. An elopement allows a couple to bring to life their own vision of marriage and create a ceremony that reflects their relationship authentically.

Elopements, despite the move away from the original definition, can still promise a marriage away from family members. Weddings very traditionally have a strong family component to them, and for some people, an elopement might be a couple's opportunity to celebrate their love without any pressure or opinions from family members. In this way, an elopement can add an element of freedom for the couple to be married.

Elopements can take many different forms and reflect the couple in a more unique, authentic and memorable way than a traditional wedding might. While many people opt for an elopement abroad with wanderlust, looking for a big adventure, many people opt for locations closer to home that perhaps hold more meaning to them. As an English photographer, I may be biased but England offers a beautiful range of locations that are both breathtaking and convenient for eloping couples.

Where can you elope in England?

One of the most popular locations for eloping in England is London. This city offers itself as a unique backdrop for elopement ceremonies. You can exchange vows in iconic locations such as Tower Bridge, the London Eye or St. Paul's Cathedral, and explore an abundance of romantic spots scattered throughout the city.

For those seeking a more rural and quiet elopement experience, the Cotswold countryside, Peak District and Lake District are great spots to consider. The Cotswolds boasts of romantic and rustic venues such as quaint stone churches, picturesque gardens, and luxurious manor homes while the Lake and Peak District come with lakes, mountains and romantic moorlands and can fulfil a sense of adventure without the need to leave the country.

Alternatively, the coastlines of England, such as Cornwall, Devon, Norfolk or Northumberland offer dramatic clifftops and beautiful beaches that will make magical backdrops for your elopement. The coastal lifestyle, coupled with the beautiful sea views and beautiful weather can make for a truly unique and special wedding day.

How to Elope in England

Eloping in England still requires some planning and some legal consideration. While in Scotland and Ireland, you can be legally married during your elopement, in England, elopement marriages aren't legal just yet and you'll need to be legally married before or after your elopement separately at a licenced venue or registry office. Some people choose to visit a registry office on the morning of their elopement date and follow on from that with their elopement and a small ceremony with a celebrant as if it were their real ceremony or some people chose to find a licenced venue that can be a part of their elopement like Hause Hall in the Lake District, The Garden Station in Northumberland or Trevigue in Cornwall.

Eloping in England is a perfect option for couples who want to exchange vows in a romantic and intimate way while still including a sense of adventure without travelling too far. With a variety of breathtaking and magical locations to choose from in England, the flexibility to tailor your elopement to your requirements, and the affordability compared to traditional weddings, it is not surprising that many couples are choosing this romantic and adventurous alternative to a traditional ceremony.

While elopements are still often seen as more non-traditional or unconventional, they are a wonderful way for couples to celebrate their love and commitment to each other in a way that feels personal and meaningful to them. Whether you choose to elope in a far-off location or simply sneak away to a secluded spot, an elopement can be a beautiful and memorable way to start your life together.

A couple eloping, they're running holding hands in a field on a mountain.

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